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Kings Road

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Album Review

After four albums in which he tackled either most or all of the instruments himself, Australian pop prodigy Michael Carpenter has finally jumped into the deep end and formed a band, and miraculously he's actually been able to improve his work in the process. The synergy of having other musicians to bounce ideas off of in the studio has allowed Carpenter to better focus his energies on the important stuff (truth to tell, he's still saving the flashy bits for himself), and Kings Rd. Works, named for his new backing band, fairly crackles with pure pop energy. Carpenter is still saving the songwriting duties for himself, of course, and this is where Kings Rd. Works shines brightest. In his liner notes, Carpenter describes this set as an effort to move past his influences, wanting "the records to sound like me," and while this stuff is as smart and tuneful as anything he's ever done, there are fewer aural name-checks of his obvious favorites (Beatles, Byrds, Beach Boys) and a lot more straight-ahead guitar-centric pop/rock. And Carpenter is as strong a lyricist as he is a tunesmith and producer, which is no small accomplishment, and this album is full of wit and high spirits as well as a maturity and hard-won wisdom on what truly matters in love and life that one doesn't often see in a contemporary pop album. Simply put, Kings Rd. Works is a great record from a criminally underappreciated artist, and if you've been wondering why no one makes the kind of album that can tug at your heart as you sing along these days, well, perhaps you haven't been looking at Michael Carpenter.

Kings Road, Michael Carpenter
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